NILES - After losing the last two games on the road in walk-off fashion, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers were able to get a 3-1 victory over the Auburn Doubledays behind the shut-down performance by starting pitcher Caleb Hamrick.
Hamrick began the game by retiring the first 13 batters in order. On the 10th pitch of a fifth-inning at-bat against William Rodriguez, the Auburn right-fielder broke up the perfect game with a one-out double that hit the third base bag.
Hamrick finished the inning in order, ending his day with no runs, facing only 16 total batters.
"Fastball command, first-pitch strikes, and throwing lots of strikes (was the key)," Hamrick said. "That's the best way to keep them off balance. If you get them behind in the count, they're going to look fastball."
Hamrick's approach seems to be working well. He has yet to allow a walk and has given up only one run in 10 innings this season.
"Last year, I was all over the place with the fastball, and this year, it's just focus on fastball down," Hamrick said.
Pitching coach Scott Erickson believes commanding the fastball will eliminate walks, fairing well for the Scrappers this season. The Scrappers allowed only one free pass, which came with no outs in the ninth inning.
"The previous two games on the road, the last three runs we gave up were all walks. So it cost us two wins just by a couple walks," Erickson said. "That's one of the importances of fastball command because whenever you're in trouble or get to a three-ball count, you can throw low fastballs and at least make them get a hit to get on base."
The only run scored by the Doubledays came on a wild pitch by Harold Guerrero in the sixth inning.
The Scrappers scored all three of their runs in the fifth inning. Claudio Bautista lead off the inning with a single, and with one out and Bautista on third, the Scrappers hit back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles.
"Once Claudio Bautista gets on, the whole team gets momentum and we just start hitting," said first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, who hit the second of the two doubles.
Juan Herrera, who hit the go-ahead double in the inning, attributed his success at the plate this season to "seeing the ball clearly" and "feeling relaxed." Herrera went 2 for 4, improving his batting average to .308 on the season, second best on the team.
The Scrappers had only seven total hits, but the pitching did more than enough to win the game, allowing the one run on just three hits.
"They did an awesome job," Rodriguez said of the pitching. "They've been doing an awesome job the whole year, and hopefully everything keeps going well for them and us as well."
The Scrappers will continue the three-game series against the Doubledays at 7:05 tonight.
ON THE MEND: Cleveland Indians pitchers Brett Myers and Blake Wood are expected to make rehab appearances tonight. This will be Myers' first rehab appearance after he mildly tore his UCL in April. Myers started four games for the Indians in 2013, with the last coming on April 19.
The Indians acquired Myers as a free agent this offseason with intentions of him being a contributor in the starting rotation. However, the team announced he will make his return to the Indians in the bullpen.
Wood began the season on the 60-day DL with a right elbow injury. He has pitched in seven minor league games this season.
CHRIS PEREZ MAY JOIN SCRAPPERS: Cleveland Indians' beleaguered closer Chris Perez could make an appearance for the Scrappers on Tuesday, depending on a bullpen session, according to team sources. Perez hasn't pitched for the Tribe since experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder in a May 26 game against Boston.
In his most recent rehab appearance for Double-A Akron, Perez gave up three home runs, five runs in total, in one inning of work.
During his time on the disabled list, Perez and his wife made headlines after being arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. Police intercepted packages containing marijuana. The packages were mailed to the home in their dog's name and contained one-third of a pound of marijuana. Chris and wife Melanie were released on personal bond and are due to appear in court on July 9.